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Floods leave delta island inhabitants stranded

A resident of Sankin Island in the Irrawaddy delta rows a boat through his inundated village. (Photo: DVB)

Three weeks after their homes began to succumb to rising water levels on the Bawle River, residents of Sankin Island in Irrawaddy Division’s Nyaungdon Township say there is still no end to their ordeal in sight, even as floodwaters elsewhere in the delta region show signs of subsiding.

People living on the island said the flooding began on 27 July, and has since left thousands of acres of paddy farms ruined and the local fishery — their other main source of income — equally devastated.

With their livelihoods in tatters, residents say that many are also cut off from outside assistance, as roads connecting the island to other communities in the region remain impassable. Power and telephone lines have also broken down in many areas, further complicating relief efforts, they said.

Local MPs from the ruling National League for Democracy are providing aid to the flood victims on their own initiative, but medical and other assistance is need on a much larger scale, residents said.

Adding to concerns about their isolation and loss of livelihood, there have also been reports of deadly snakebites in the area, as poisonous snakes are flushed out by the flooding.

Last week, a local man died after he was bitten by a viper because no antivenom was available at his village’s local medical centre. Transportation problems caused by the flooding prevented him from reaching the nearest town hospital in time to save him.